Chatham mayor sees opening day as close call

Installed along Hudson Avenue in Chatham, a kind of graduate procession of the seniors who would have crossed the stage on Graduation night in June. Photo by David Lee

CHATHAM – The Village Board held its regular monthly meeting May 11 using the Webex internet platform so that members of the board and department heads could practice social distancing.

Though the NY ON PAUSE plan ordered by the governor ends May 15, Mayor John Howe said he was not sure the county was going to be open by that date. The mayor said there was a real possibility that the Capital Region, of which the county is part, won’t hit the benchmarks needed to reopen by the end of the week.

Trustee Melony Spock told the board that the CABA (Chatham Area Business and Arts) annual SummerFest, a villagewide event in July, has been canceled this year. She said CABA is still hoping to have OctoberFeast.

“We want to be safe,” she said.

Mayor Howe said village Memorial Day events have been canceled and he was “99.9%” sure that the annual county Firefighters’ Convention, which Chatham was going to host this summer, would also be canceled. He said currently the county fair, which takes place on the fairgrounds in the village over Labor Day weekend, was still on but that the Agriculture Society, which sponsors the fair, had a “drop dead date” of July 1.

“We’re not optimistic” he said of the fair.

But he did say he has spoken with the Chatham High School principal about doing something for the graduating class, possibly at the fairgrounds.

Chatham Town Board member Vance Pitkin, who was online for the virtual meeting, said that the Town Board approved moving forward with finishing construction of the pavilion at Crellin Park, just outside of the village. But citing safety reasons he said Town Board would soon decide whether to cancel the summer camp program at the park, which the town sponsors.

Mr. Pitkin said that the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, Matt Murell (Stockport), has asked that there be no summer camps this year.

“That’s sad,” said Mayor Howe. And Trustee Spock worried that when people have to go back to work, “Who’s going to watch the kids?” with no camps and schools closed.

Mr. Pitkin said the Town Board had “tried to come up some alternative programs” but safety was an issue.

One department in the village that will start running at full staffing is Public Works. Mayor Howe said that agency has been deemed essential.

Trustee Lenore Packet, who read the DPW report during the meeting, said of the crew, “They are not going into any buildings” for the time being.

Leaf pick-up in the village will begin again May 18. And the crew will get back to reading water meters.

Phil Genovese of the DPW, who was part of the online meeting, said the DPW workers were “eager to get back into things.”

“We have some things that need to get done,” Mayor Howe said of the DPW. During the Pause, departments were cut much of the usual staff.

The board also talked about hiring another full-time employee at DPW. Mr. Genovese said, according the workers’ union, he would have to advertise the position in-house and if he did not find a suitable candidate the village could advertise for the position outside of the department.

Mayor Howe said he would like a job description of the position. He also told Mr. Genovese to look for candidates but asked that he hold off hiring until the village opens the bid for garbage pick-up in case they come in over what the village has budgeted for. The village will be putting the garbage contract out for bid now, as they do every two years. The board should know by June how much the service will cost. The village budgeted $80,000, which is what was budgeted in the past.


‘We want to be safe.’

Trustee Melony Spock

Chatham Village Board


The board also talked with Code Enforcement Office Erin Reis about projects in the village. Mayor Howe said that during the pandemic the state and county have asked the local CEO to regulate issues like large gatherings or events. Ms. Reis said she had not gotten calls about events but there had been complaints about work taking place.

Trustee Pete Minahan told Ms. Reis that she should reach out to the Chatham Police for issues with gatherings and events for safety reasons.

Also at the meeting:

• The board appointed Village Clerk Debra Meyers as clerk/treasurer at the same rate of pay as she currently receives. Her salary will be adjusted with the new budget, which starts June 1. The board had discussed making Ms. Meyers the clerk/treasurer and hiring the former treasurer as the village accountant earlier in the spring

• The board appointed James Borgia-Forster as the village associate justice. Mayor Howe said they would normally have made the appointment at their organizational meeting but village elections were moved from March to September so the board did not have an organizational meeting

• Mayor Howe discussed a letter from the board of the Rural Cemetery. The cemetery is located in the section of the village that lies within the Town of Ghent. The cemetery board asked the Village Board for $5,000 in funding. The cemetery board also asked the town for funding, according the mayor. Mayor Howe said that Ghent did not offer to provide money but did offer to have the Highway Department help with maintenance. Mayor Howe said he too would be interested in helping but that the 2020-21 budget did not have “anything extra” in terms of funding. “We could just give them some manpower,” he said

• The board received a letter of resignation from the deputy court clerk.

The next Village Board meeting will be Monday, June 8 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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